The State of Indiana is poised to increase the prison time one must serve for murder and other violent crimes.
A new set of sentencing guidelines will take effect on July first.
The current code has become notorious for allowing inmates to be released after serving just 50 percent of their sentences.
In the summer of 2012, in a span of there months, three people were murdered in Mishawaka—allegedly by convicted murderers: Two men who had been released from prison after serving murder sentences
Tarrance Lee had served just 20 years of three 40 year sentences he served.
Steven Clippenger served just 20 years of a 45 year murder sentence.
“Truth in sentencing is long overdue,” said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak.
Violent criminals in Indiana have long served just half the prison time they're given by the judge, because they're given one day's credit for every day of good behavior behind bars.
Now Indiana stands poised to raise the bar starting July 1, —requiring violent criminals to serve at least 75 percent of their sentences.
Under the new rules, a murderer who receives the minimum sentence will actually end up serving more time in prison than someone does now when they get the maximum sentence.
“The more serious crimes are the ones for which a person sentenced to prison is going to do three quarters of the time they're sentenced to, rather than only half,” said Dvorak. “And the emphasis was trying to get the most serious crimes enhanced, recognizing that there was a move in the other direction to reduce all the criminal offenses altogether.”
Hence, the mixed bag of sentencing reform that increases the penalties for 30 felonies, and lessens the penalties for 90 felonies.
“The legislature increased the penalties for crimes against persons, and decreased the penalties for crimes against property,” said Dvorak. “Some of the first offenses, as I said, particularly for drug dealing are reduced dramatically.”
For example, while extra punishment is now doled out for drug deals that take place within 1,000 feet of a school, the new rules cut that distance to just 500 feet.
On the other hand, it’ll be easier for prosecutors to prove a defendant’s gang affiliation—a designation that could double one’s sentence.
While the new guidelines take effect on July 1st, they will only apply to crimes committed after July 1st.
“If a crime occurs now, and even if we don’t detect that crime until July 1st, if a crime occurs before July 1st of this year, you’re sentenced under the old code, you’re charged under the old code, you’re sentenced under the old code. For crimes that occur after July first, it’s all under the new code,” said Dvorak.